Five ways to naturally increase your 'happiness' hormone


Here’s a double combo to increase your dopamine levels: Cuddle your furry friend, while listening to your favourite tracks. — AFP

Fatigue, reduced concentration, memory loss and lack of motivation are some of the consequences of a dopamine deficiency.

However, this neurotransmitter – also known as the happiness hormone – can be stimulated naturally through certain actions and activities accessible to all.

Central to the brain’s reward system, this compound is naturally secreted to provide a certain feeling of satisfaction in response to specific actions, such as physical activity.

According to the French Federation for Brain Research (FRC), it is, more precisely, a “neurotransmitter, which in the central nervous system, activates postsynaptic dopaminergic receptors.

“[It] plays an essential final modulating role in motor and psychic output, ... serves to reinforce behaviours such as eating, and plays a role in motivation by functioning as a kind of reward system.”

A deficiency or excess of dopamine can have harmful consequences, ranging from memory loss to addictions, requiring a certain balance to be maintained.

Parkinson’s disease, linked to a degeneration of the neurons that produce dopamine, requires clinical therapies to stimulate the production of this substance.

But milder symptoms suggestive of dopamine deficiency, such as reduced concentration, fatigue or memory lapses, can potentially be relieved by everyday actions and activities that help stimulate its production.

Here are five ways to help keep this neuronal messenger at optimal levels:

> Play with your pet

Many studies have shown that pets, especially dogs and cats, are a source of happiness, and even a way to limit stress.

Not only do they help reduce the levels of cortisol – the stress hormone – according to American research, but our four-legged friends could also stimulate the production of dopamine.

Several scientific studies agree that petting a furry friend releases two essential substances: oxytocin, the love and social bonding hormone, and dopamine, our famous happiness hormone.

> Get some exercise

It is often said that exercise or playing sports releases endorphins.

This is true, but it is not the only pleasure or well-being hormone that is secreted by physical activity.

Whatever the chosen form, exercise naturally stimulates the production of dopamine during and after exertion, providing that feeling of well-being, accomplishment and satisfaction, or exercise “high”, that gym junkies often talk about.

It is therefore not surprising that certain scientific studies point to a link between physical activity, memory and concentration, or that it can be a source of motivation – and in excess, of exercise addiction.

> Listen to music

Music may soothe the savage beast, but that’s not all it can do.

It could also play an active role in stimulating the production of dopamine.

Music and pleasure appear to be intimately linked, provided of course that you choose tracks that you particularly like.

Activating the brain’s famous reward system, listening to music could even arouse feelings of euphoria and desire that are more often associated with eating, sex or taking certain drugs, as revealed by researchers from Canada’s McGill University.

It is therefore not surprising that music is now used in healthcare settings, with music therapy used to complement nursing care during painful procedures, for example.

> Make love

From relieving migraines to fighting certain cardiovascular (heart) diseases and even looking younger, sex seems to be particularly beneficial for health, according to numerous scientific studies.

But beyond that, sex could also be a stimulant for dopamine production – and for good reason, since it is obviously also directly associated with pleasure.

Making love is enough to secrete the famous molecule, but the orgasm alone provides a veritable cocktail of hormones, releasing serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin, which are all associated in one way or another with happiness and pleasure.

> Eat a healthy, balanced diet

A poor diet can be the cause of a dopamine deficiency.

Meanwhile, certain foods can help to naturally boost its production.

For this, it’s advisable to turn to certain foods rich in tyrosine, such as meat, fish, seaweed, leeks, spinach, legumes, avocados, bananas and chocolate.

All these ingredients help fight against stress, improve mood or limit fatigue. – AFP Relaxnews

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Brain , pets , music , exercise , sex , diet


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